Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Run?

Man resting after a run
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Question: Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Run?

Whenever I run, my face turns bright red. Why is that? Is something wrong?

Answer: When you're running, your body is producing heat. Sweating is one way your body tries to cool you down. To help regulate your temperature, your body also increases blood supply to your skin so that heat can be radiated off. Your capillaries dilate so more blood can flow through them and be cooled by radiating the extra heat through your skin.

 The diameter of the capillaries of cheeks is wider than elsewhere and they are closer to the surface, so when they dilate there is even more red blood coming close to the surface and giving you that rosy red color. The blood rushes to your face (and sometimes other body parts), giving you that beet red color.

Some Runners Will Always Get Red Faces

Many runners get red-faced no matter how much their fitness improves. Everyone handles the heat differently, and just as some runners sweat more than others, some get red faces and others don't. Some people naturally have more capillaries in their face and they may also have fair skin so you can see the red color easier. Others may have capillaries that naturally carry more blood to the face during exertion. Either way, they are more prone to having a red face from exercise. If you are one of the flushers or not is probably something to blame on your parents and grandparents.

Red Faced from Running in Hot Weather

You may find that you get more beet red if you're doing an intense run or running in hot or humid weather. During the warm weather, try to run early in the morning or later in the evening (or indoors if it's really bad). Also make sure you're staying hydrated during your runs and drinking when you're thirsty.

Try pouring water on your head, neck, and under your arms to cool off.

If you're experiencing other symptoms besides a red face, like dizziness or nausea, you may be suffering from a heat-related illness. Stop running immediately, sip some water and get in the shade.

Should You Talk to Your Doctor About Flushing During Exercise?

Although a red face while running is usually harmless, you should still mention it to your doctor, especially if you're brand-new to running. You may note whether you are experiencing flushing in other circumstances. If you have other symptoms such as diarrhea, wheezing, hives or difficulty breathing, it could be the sign of a more serious condition. Is it worse with certain foods, when you drink alcohol? Be prepared by knowing all of your symptoms.

If You're Healthy, Wear Your Red Face with Pride

If you've been assured you are healthy and you still have that red glow, wear it with pride. Yes, it can be annoying if passersby keep asking if you are all right when you think you look like Superwoman.

But at least you know you'll be able to get help someday when you really need it. If you're glowing, you're going!


Christian Nasr, Flushing, Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education, June, 2012.

Kevin Berman, MD. Skin blushing/flushing, MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4/14/2015. </p>

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